August 11, 2012 4:45pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Fox Sues to Stop TV Streaming Service Barrydriller.com
Fox is taking legal aim at another TV streaming service.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Friday and obtained by THR, the network claims that a startup called BarryDriller (Barrydriller.com) violates its copyrights and trademarks by streaming its LA station KTTV's signal without permission.
The site is run by eccentric provocateur Alki David and its name is most likely a reference to Aereo, the TV streaming service whose backers include media mogul Barry Diller. Fox and other networks have sued Aereo under similar legal theories, claiming that digital startups should not be allowed to stream TV signals to subscribers without permission from stations and content owners. A New York judge last month declined to immediately shut down Aereo but the networks continue to pursue the case on the theory that Aereo violates public performance rights and would cripple their business.
David now appears to be jumping on the Aereo bandwagon with the Aug. 7 launch of the new service, which uses antennae to beam free TV signals to subscribers for $5.95 per month. We've written about David's antics before. His previous company, FilmOn, was sued by CBS and other broadcasters. David recently reached a settlement whereby he agreed to pay the networks $1.6 million and to end the litigation but he vowed to continue on with a new service. BarryDriller appears to be that service. In contrast to Aereo, David has said he would pay retransmission fees to broadcasters, but the networks don't believe the service is legal.
"No amount of technological gimmickry by Defendants changes the fundamental principle of copyright law that those who wish to retransmit Plaintiffs' broadcasts may do so only with Plaintiffs' authority," the complaint argues.
We've reached out to David for comment. UPDATE: David emails the following response: "Fox is a great company. Charlie Sheen, one of our shareholders, is having a great time with FX right now. They should be hugging us not suing us. But if a lawsuit is what they want, then so be it. Remember what happened with CBS."
As noted earlier this month, David is making another interesting move. He is planning a new TV channel that will be streamed and carried over the air through cable and satellite providers. He says he's reached a deal with KHIZ (channel 64) in Los Angeles to turn it into KILM, which also will be carried locally by Time Warner, Dish and DirecTV. He says it will be available throughout the U.S. by the end of the year.
The Fox suit for injunctive relief and unspecified damages was filed by Richard Stone and a team from Jenner and Block.